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From "Sam Ruby" <>
Subject Re: [OT] Re: Speaking of deprecation...
Date Wed, 06 Feb 2002 13:40:23 GMT
Diane Holt wrote:
> I always thought it came from a code-number for bussing a table -- but
> American Heritage seems to have another idea about it:

There are more than a few theories on this... see and

Here's my favorite quote:

   The theory you've heard about "86" is certainly entertaining, but is
   unsubstantiated and probably not true. Fortunately, there are lots of
   other theories. Unfortunately, there's not much evidence supporting
   them, either. What we do know is that "86" first appeared as "kitchen
   slang" meaning "out of that item" in the 1930's, and fairly quickly came
   to mean "stop serving that customer" as well. Eventually, "86" spread to
   general usage, where it came to mean simply "dismiss" or "quash" ("The
   boss 86'ed my proposal for beer in the lunchroom").

- Sam Ruby

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